Recent Power Outages – Who Actually Owns the Electric Grid?

November 4, 2017

 

 

Anyone else a bit fed up by not only the duration of the recent power outage, and also the lack of clarity on the scope and recovery times?  It is abysmal for businesses – particularly smaller ones – to operate in the unknown for any period of time.  Like all other power outages, you think only a couple of hours at most and just hunker down.  Then it goes on, no actual committed updates are available, but what do you actually do?  Do you continue to wait it out, or do you invest in a generator.  Many companies lost valuable time this week in the dark, but other food related companies and restaurants were risking their entire inventories – which is an extensive expense to go along with not being able to make product and meet delivery commitments.

 

 

Storms now are much more powerful and dangerous – no doubting that fact – although some knuckleheads in our government actually do.  Building codes have changed to anticipate these new forces, but has the electric grid been updated as to hardware to withstand these winds, increase their weight bearing capacity,  and also upgrade their software and monitoring capabilities to detect the locations of outages and target repair crews to these locations to repair outages quickly?  I don’t think so.  I actually saw crews driving around Amesbury tracking wires and telephone poles to actually find downed lines, broken poles, and overhanging tree branches.  In 2017, there has to be a better way than this hodgepodge approach.

 

The fact is that there is little actual  investment made by utilities in upgrading the physical capabilities and there remain questions as to who actually owns the electric grid.  That is where things turn into finger pointing between utilities, government, and regulators.  Nobody wants to own it because that would imply maintenance.  I literally attended a meeting in NYC this summer with representatives from above constituents, asked this question, and got the finger pointing answer of NOBODY.

 

If a company owns a factory that they use to make and deliver a product, do they own the maintenance of that building – hell YES they do.  If your factory from which you make money is a network of wires and connections – a grid, shouldn’t you own the maintenance and long term plan for availability of that factory?  I believe they should, particularly when paying senior management multiple millions of dollars coming out of their customers’ pockets – businesses and residences electric rates.

 

@CI Works we work with companies to focus on innovation and innovative products, we hope that National Grid will be compelled to behave similarly.  Until they do, innovative technologies intended to integrate with the electric grid will continue to flail away hopelessly.

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